Directed Energy and Optics
The industry grew from decades of research at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque and its laboratories, as well as Sandia National Laboratories and White Sands Missile Range.
Optics is, simply, the use of light. Photonics is the science of generating, manipulating, transporting, detecting and using light information energy. The basic unit is the photon.
Albuquerque’s optics companies design, develop and manufacture optics systems and components for both the public and private sector. Activities include laser, sensor, component and instrument manufacturing; production of entire systems; design; and supply.
Major Optics Players
Boeing,which in 2010 consolidated its directed energy work (advanced laser concepts and systems) in Albuquerque.
CVI Melles Griot, founded in 1972, a manufacturer of optics and photonics products for semiconductor, biotech, industrial, aerospace, and scientific markets.
AMO Wavefront, which performs wavefront analysis and provides wavefront sensing metrology for applications from space telescopes to ophthalmic surgery.
InLight Solutions, which develops light measurement devices for health-care uses, including noninvasive glucose measurement.
Applied Technology Associates Corp., which specializes in precision sensing, measurement and control products and services.
The Air Force Research Laboratory,is a national center for high-power lasers and optics. The lab’s Directed Energy Directorate is the Air Force center of expertise for lasers, high-energy microwaves, and other directed energy technologies.UNM’s Center for High Technology Materials (CHTM) has a national reputation for its work in optoelectronics and microelectronics. It’s an optoelectronics center for multiple federal agencies. And UNM SOE is a key member of the National Science Foundation Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center.
Albuquerque has a pioneering program, started in 2001, to educate students in optics and photonics from middle school through graduate degrees. The Photonics Academy at West Mesa High School, prepares students for jobs or continued studies at CNM or UNM.
Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) has had laser and optics classes since the mid-1970s. In recent years CNM developed its Photonics Technology Program, which offers both certificate and associate degrees.
The University of New Mexico has a well known Optical Science and Engineering Program taught by physics and electrical engineering faculty and offers PhD and master’s degrees. The university is developing curriculum for a bachelor’s degree in optics.